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Rule by the majority

24/03/2015

The suggestion that democracy is some kind of ideal for organising human conduct is a popular misconception. No, it’s more than that it is accepted as a truism—yet it is, in fact, a falsehood, a lie! I have immediate and direct experience of this living in an owners corporation. Forget all about good manners and courtesies. In an owners corporation the majority rules. And the majority can be all number of things such a dysfunctional, self interested, misguided, power hungry, stubborn and so forth. Beware and be warned of this possible pitfall. It can be oppressive to have to live according to the standards of the majority, however heartfelt our neighbours’ demands and however right they think they are. The phrase “tyranny of the majority” has been coined for such a state of affairs.

The ideal way to organize human conduct is to create a system that maximizes personal liberty for all. Liberty and democracy are not synonymous and most often are opposites. Measures are too often decided by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.

How many of our life choices would we like settled by majority rule? Would you want the kind of car you own to be decided through a democratic process, or would you prefer purchasing any car you please? Ask that same question about decisions such as where you shall live, what clothes you purchase, what food you eat, what entertainment you enjoy and what wines you drink. I’m sure that if anyone suggested that these choices be subject to a democratic process, we would deem it tyranny.

By the way, the word democracy does not appear in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, as best I can tell, and in none of the US founding documents, for that matter. Isn’t that surprising!

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